How to avoid triangulation between children and parents during infidelity

Tammy Nelson, PhD, offers advice on how parents can avoid the problem of triangulation when children find out about infidelity in a marriage
Parenting and Family Advice | Avoiding triangulation between children and parents after infidelity
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How to avoid triangulation between children and parents during infidelity

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So your child found out about the affair and told you. And now you've confronted your partner. Should you go back to your child and talk to them about it? Do they need to know what's going on in your marriage? Well they certainly need to know that they're not in trouble for ratting out the other partner. They need to know that they're not aligning with one or the other of you, because that's what we call triangulation. When there's one person that aligns with one person, someone always gets left out. And you don't want that person to be your child. You don't want them to feel like they have to pick one parent over the other. So the best way to deal with that is to be aligned as parents and to confront your child in a gentle way by saying, we really appreciate that you brought this information out, and we appreciate that you're trying to help our relationship. And we'll take it from here. We as the grown ups have this under control. We just want to let you know that you can always be honest and come to us with any information that you're concerned about. Or if you have anything that you're scared about or worried about, we want you to come tell us, and tell us together. And we're always going to honor your feelings. You don't have to deny, affirm, tell them that they're right or wrong. Tell them that we're going to work through this. If at some point the affair does come out and you end up breaking up over it, God forbid, or if the affair becomes public knowledge and everyone knows about it and your child knows about it, there may be some guilt on your child's part. They might think that they caused the break up in the relationship. And you need to talk to them in a little bit more mature way. That you acknowledge that they feel that way. I bet you feel a little bit guilty that you talked about this. We want you to know that this is not your fault. This is a grown up problem. We got ourselves into this situation. And you know what? We can never cheat on you, because you're our child. And we're always going to love you, because we're your mom and dad, and we're always going to be your parents.

Tammy Nelson, PhD, offers advice on how parents can avoid the problem of triangulation when children find out about infidelity in a marriage

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Expert Bio

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Tammy Nelson, PhD

Psychotherapist & Relationship Expert

Tammy Nelson PhD is the author of several books including, “Getting the Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together”  (2008) and  “What’s Eating You? A Workbook for Anorexia and Bulimia (2004)” and her latest  book “The New Monogamy; Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity” (January 2013) is receiving critical acclaim.  She has been a featured expert in New York Times, Washington Post, Self,  Glamour Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, MSNBC,  Shape, Men’s Health, Women’s Health Woman’s Day, Women’s Health, and a source in Time Magazine. She writes for the Huffington Post, YourTango and can be followed on her blog www.drtammynelson.com/blog/.

Tammy Nelson is a Board Certified Sexologist, a Certified Sex Therapist and an Imago Relationship Therapist.  She is an international speaker and a licensed psychotherapist in private practice with over 25 years of experience working with individuals and couples.  She travels and lectures internationally on her quest for global relational change.

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